Changing Your Clothes

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Changing Your Closet: What System Works?


Closet confession #1 (yes, there will be more): I reorganize my clothes regularly, partly to remove the things that no longer work for me, but mostly in an attempt to find the perfect system. Care to make a guess as to my success rate?

The way I’ve generally organized my closet in the past has been by type, i.e. skirts together, dresses together, etc. Here’s how my wardrobe (at least the parts that hang) looked using this plan:

My Closet, Organized by Item Type

My clothes (the hanging ones), grouped according to item type.

I will say here that no system is wrong, as long as you have one. With this arrangement, at least I can see more or less at a glance where my wardrobe is deficient in terms of the function of the pieces (only 2 pairs of trousers, but then again, I’ve always preferred wearing dresses). However, visually, it doesn’t appeal to me at all— too much of a jumble of colors. (My inclination, with just about everything from clothes, fabric and yarn stashes, even the towels in my bathroom, is to group things by colors.)

Here it is again, still organized by type, but at least this time I’ve organized the items in each group according to color (e.g. all the black skirts together):

Organized by Type, then by Color

Still organized by item type, then each group of items is arranged by color.

That’s a little better. Since I’m so color-oriented, this is slightly easier on my eye, and again, it helps me to identify weak spots in my wardrobe. (Do I really need that many brown skirts?) But after living with this arrangement for quite a while, it still wasn’t functioning the way I wanted it to; there were just too many times when I felt like I simply couldn’t put an outfit together. Again, I believe this issue relates to my instinct to start with colors before thinking in terms of ensembles (as opposed to a general lack of decisiveness, which I may or may not acknowledge).

One last venture into my closet, this time rearranging things only by color:

Closet Arranged by Color

And the same clothes, arranged according to color only!

Oh, I like this so much more! Now that I’ve figured out that I am (a) deficient in trousers, and (b) overstocked with brown skirts, this arrangement gives me some new information, to wit: for someone with such a love of color, there is an awful lot of grey and black here! (I blame this on my recent obsession with ballroom dancing.) But it looks prettier now, at least to me.

Aside: it just occurred to me to count how many things on this rack are items I’ve made myself. Here’s the score: 18 (out of 41 on this rack)! And that’s not counting some gymwear, and at least a couple dozen hand-knitted-by-me sweaters and capelets, plus scarves, wraps, gloves, and socks. Oh, and I have 2 coats I’ve made too, now that I think about it. Not bad! End of aside.

If you feel like trying a new arrangement in your own closet, remember: you’re the only one who will be able to determine what system works best for you— I’m sure there are many more ways that I haven’t tried myself yet. But I do encourage you to experiment! It’s not really about “succeeding”, or devising the “perfect system”; a temporary change is still change, and change always signifies growth. So even if you decide to go back to how you had things originally, simply moving things around will almost certainly inspire you to try new combinations of styles and colors— with the fabulous clothes you already have!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

6 thoughts on “Changing Your Closet: What System Works?

  1. Pingback: Santa Fe Wardrobe: P.S. « Changing Your Clothes

  2. Interesting— I’m more conceptually oriented, and all of the various closet arrangements I have tried have reflected that. (I love the way your closet looks organised by colour, but know it would be useless for me). I do things like arrange clothes by use— from day wear to evening, with mix and match pieces between. Apparently our systems reveal who we are. Maybe that’s why my current (disorganised) closet looks like a Rorshach…

    • I’m sure there is no one system that will work for everyone; it’s really about trying different approaches, and developing your own unique system. And I also like that, just in the process of moving things around, there’s the potential to find new outfit inspiration!

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